Enter the characters you see below Sorry, we just need to make sure you’re not a robot. In characteristic Roman fashion, Caesar does not refer to these figures by their native names but by the names of the Roman gods with which he equated them, a procedure that greatly complicates the task of identifying his Gaulish deities with their counterparts in the name of thor’s hammer pronunciation insular literatures. He also presents a neat schematic equation of god and function that is quite foreign to the vernacular literary testimony. Yet, given its limitations, his brief catalog is a valuable witness.
General Characteristics Evidence from the Roman period presents a wide array of gods and goddesses who are represented by images or inscribed dedications. Certain deities were venerated widely across the Celtic world, while others were limited only to a single religion or even to a specific locality. Certain local or regional deities might have greater popularity within their spheres than supra-regional deities. Supra-Regional Cults Among the divinities transcending tribal boundaries were the Matres, the sky-god and Epona, the horse-goddess, who was invoked by devotees living as far apart as Britain, Rome and Bulgaria. A distinctive feature of the mother-goddesses was their frequent depiction as a triad in many parts of Britain, in Gaul and on the Rhine, although it is possible to identify strong regional differences within this group. Local Cults It is sometimes possible to identify regional, tribal, or sub-tribal divinities. Specific to the Remi of northwest Gaul is a distinctive group of stone carvings depicting a triple-faced god with shared facial features and luxuriant beards.
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In the Iron Age, this same tribe issued coins with three faces, a motif found elsewhere is Gaul. Another tribal god was Lenus, venerated by the Treveri. Many Celtic divinities were extremely localised, sometimes occurring in just one shrine, perhaps because the spirit concerned was a genius loci, the governing spirit of a particular place. In Gaul, over four hundred different Celtic god-names are recorded, of which at least 300 occur just once.
Sequana was confined to her spring shrine near Dijon, Sulis belonged to Bath. The divine couple Ucuetis and Bergusia were worshipped solely at Alesia in Burgundy. Mercury’, Nantosuelta and Sucellos, Sirona and Apollo Grannus, Borvo and Damona, or Mars Loucetius and Nemetona. Notable Deity Types Antlered Gods A recurrent figure in Gaulish iconography is a cross-legged deity with antlers, sometimes surrounded by animals, often wearing or holding a torc. Brighid, the triple goddess of healing, poetry and smithcraft is perhaps the most well-known of the Insular Celtic deities of healing. She is associated with many healing springs and wells.
A lesser-known Irish healing goddess is Airmed, also associated with a healing well and with the healing art of herbalism. Grannus’s companion is frequently the goddess Sirona. Goddesses of Sacred Waters In Ireland, there are numerous holy wells dedicated to the goddess Brighid. Minerva’ in Britain and throughout the Celtic areas of the Continent. At Bath Minerva was identified with the goddess Sulis, whose cult there centred on the thermal springs.
Other goddesses were also associated with sacred springs, such as Icovellauna among the Treveri and Coventina at Carrawburgh. While the most well-known deity of the sea is the god Manannán, possible early Irish sea goddesses include Fand, her sister Lí Ban, and the mother-goddess of the Fomorians, Domnu. Goddesses of Horses The horse, an instrument of Indo-European expansion, plays a part in all the mythologies of the various Celtic cultures. The cult of the Gaulish horse goddess Epona was widespread. Adopted by the Roman cavalry, it spread throughout much of Europe, even to Rome itself. She seems to be the embodiment of “horse power” or horsemanship, which was likely perceived as a power vital for the success and protection of the tribe.
The Welsh horse goddess Rhiannon is best known from The Mabinogion, a collection of medieval Welsh tales, in which she makes her first appearance on a pale, mysterious steed and meets King Pwyll, whom she later marries. She was accused of killing and devouring her infant son, and in punishment she was forced to act as a horse and to carry visitors to the royal court. According to another story, she was made to wear the collars of asses about her neck in the manner of a beast. Mother Goddesses Mother goddesses are a recurrent feature in Celtic religions. The epigraphic record reveals many dedications to the Matres or Matronae, which are particularly prolific around Cologne in the Rhineland. Irish Danu, Boand, Macha and Ernmas. However, all of these goddesses fulfill many roles in the mythology and symbolism of the Celts, and cannot be limited only to motherhood.
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In many of their tales, their having children is only mentioned in passing, and is not a central facet of their identity. Mother goddesses were at times symbols of sovereignty, creativity, birth, fertility, sexual union and nurturing. At other times they could be seen as punishers and destroyers: their offspring may be helpful or dangerous to the community, and the circumstances of their birth may lead to curses, geasa or hardship, such as in the case of Macha’s curse of the Ulstermen or Rhiannon’s possible devouring of her child and subsequent punishment. Mercury’, and this is confirmed by numerous images and inscriptions. The Gaulish Mercury often seems to function as a god of sovereignty.
Both these characteristics are unusual for the classical god. Cult of Taranis The Gaulish Jupiter is often depicted with a thunderbolt in one hand and a distinctive wheel in the other. Taranis, who is mentioned by Lucan. The name Taranis may be cognate with those of Taran, a minor figure in Welsh mythology, and Turenn, the father of the ‘three gods of Dana’ in Irish mythology. According to later commentators, victims sacrificed to Teutates were killed by being plunged headfirst into a vat filled with an unspecified liquid. Mercure mais sa domination n’est pas de même nature. Mercury, but his domination is not of the same kind.